The Glaucoma Research Foundation and the American Diabetes Association suggest a number of tips to help safeguard and improve the eye sight of those concerned with developing glaucoma and cataracts.  Among them:

*Get regular eye checkups because eye diseases don’t always have symptoms. African Americans over age 35 should get a comprehensive dilated eye exam at least once every two years. If you have diabetes, you need an eye exam at least once a year. Ask your doctor how often you should have your eyes checked;

*Protect your eyes from the sun with sunglasses and a hat;

*Don’t smoke. If you smoke, try to quit;

*Control your blood pressure; and

*Eat healthy foods, including lots of fruits and green leafy vegetables.

Following the call for holistic eating practices to combat eye conditions, JoAnn A. Giaconi, a physician with the American Glaucoma Society also advocates a diet of foods that appear sight-protective including fresh oranges, peaches, spinach and collard greens and kale.

Of the 584 Black women participating in Giaconi’s recent study of osteoporotic fractures, she found that glaucoma was diagnosed in at least one eye in 77 participants.  Correlations between food intake and glaucoma were evaluated and she found that eating three or more servings of fruit or fruit juices daily decreased the odds of Black women developing glaucoma by 79 percent. More than two servings per week of fresh oranges and peaches also significantly decreased the chance of developing glaucoma.

Additionally, eating one serving of collard greens or kale decreased the odds of glaucoma by 57 percent.

“The antioxidants in the fruits and vegetables that we eat can potentially block oxidation stress that can lead to cell damage in glaucoma,” Giaconi said.

The Glaucoma Research Foundation found evidence that regular exercise can reduce eye pressure on its own, and can also have a positive impact on other glaucoma risk factors including diabetes and high blood pressure.  In a recent study, people with glaucoma who exercised regularly for three months reduced their IOPs an average of 20 percent; those riding stationary bikes 4 times per week for 40 minutes saw measurable improvements in eye pressure and physical conditioning; and glaucoma patients who walked briskly 4 times per week for 40 minutes were able to lower their IOP enough to eliminate the need for beta blockers.